A flat, well-toned midsection takes hard work. Even still, uncontrollable factors can get in the way — aging, pregnancy, heredity, prior abdominal surgery, and major weight changes.
While workout programs and dieting can be a good start, sometimes they cannot fully achieve the effect you want. In that case, you may want to consider a tummy tuck (also called an abdominoplasty).
A tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss or an exercise program. In fact, you need to be in good health and at a stable weight to be eligible for a tummy tuck. But, it can be a solution if you’re bothered by the way your stomach looks and you want a smoother, firmer abdomen.
Here’s what you should know about this procedure.
What Is a Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)?
A tummy tuck is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin and fat from your stomach area. In most cases, it also restores muscles underneath that might be weakened or separated. This helps make your stomach smoother and firmer.
Is a Tummy Tuck Right for You?
Undergoing a tummy tuck is not a decision to be made lightly. Ask yourself:
- Am I bothered by how my abdomen looks?
- Am I doing this for myself?
- Do I have realistic expectations about the results?
- Am I physically healthy and at a stable weight?
- Am I a nonsmoker or willing to quit smoking?
- Am I willing to commit to any postoperative care?
If you can confidently answer yes to these questions, it may be time to talk to your physician about whether a tummy tuck is right for you.
Proper Preparation For a Successful Surgery
It’s vital to be in good health for a tummy tuck because, like many surgeries, your body will need time and energy to heal afterward. Good nutrition is especially important as your body heals from surgery.
You may need to undergo a medical evaluation prior to the procedure to ensure your body can handle it.
Your physician may also ask you to stop taking some medications — such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements — because they can cause excessive bleeding during surgery.
If you smoke, you’ll need to stop smoking before surgery. Smoking lowers blood pressure because of the carbon monoxide that’s inhaled, which makes it harder for the blood to carry oxygen. This can be dangerous when undergoing any surgery.
- Anesthesia: You’ll either be given a sedative through an IV or general anesthesia, depending on the preferences of you and your physician.
- Incision: Your physician will make a horizontal incision right above the pubic hairline. The shape and length of this incision will depend on how much excess skin there is.
- Lift: The skin is then lifted to allow your physician to repair the weakened muscles underneath. Sometimes a second incision is made right around the navel to remove excess skin in the upper part of the abdomen.
- Trim: The upper abdominal skin is pulled down, and, after any excess skin is trimmed, the remaining skin is stitched together.
- Belly button: A new opening for the belly button is made, and the belly button is pushed through to the surface and put into position. Everything is then closed up using stitches, skin adhesives, tapes, or clips.
5 Steps of Tummy Tuck
Recovery: Healing From a Tummy Tuck
Most patients go home the same day of the procedure. The incision site will be covered by dressing and bandages, and your midsection may be further wrapped in a bandage or compression garment to minimize swelling and provide support to your abdomen as it heals.
Because a tummy tuck impacts your muscles, it takes a few weeks to heal. You will likely feel sore and somewhat uncomfortable for the first week or so.
Plan to rest for the first few days after the procedure. You will, however, be encouraged to get up and walk around slowly to get the blood in your body flowing, which helps with healing.
Your physician may put small tubes in the incisions to help with any draining fluid. If this is the case, you need to make sure to clean them properly according to your physician’s instructions. If you don’t, this can lead to an infection in the wound.
Though the scar from a tummy tuck is purposely positioned so that it can be easily hidden by most bikini bottoms, it’s important to keep in mind that it can take up to a year for it to fade — and it may not fade entirely. It’s helpful to avoid irritating the incision — like with tight clothing — while it’s healing to avoid further scarring.
Your physician will discuss your schedule for returning to work.
Maintaining Your Results
While the changes made during a tummy tuck are meant to last, you play a major role in maintaining the results afterward.
Weight fluctuations or major changes in your body can cause the skin to stretch back out and the muscles to weaken. If you are planning any weight changes — such as a pregnancy — it’s best to wait to have the procedure until after your weight is stable.
It’s also essential that you maintain a healthy lifestyle after a tummy tuck to avoid fat buildup in your waistline. You should make sure to exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. Avoiding unhealthy food and beverages — like high-fat foods, sweets, and alcohol — is important.
And you shouldn’t smoke, as the effects of this can be just as detrimental to your waistline.
What Are the Risks of a Tummy Tuck?
Because a tummy tuck is a surgical procedure, there are some potential risks. When you make the decision to get a tummy tuck, you need to be aware of these risks and consider whether the benefits of a more appealing abdomen are worth experiencing potential complications.
Risks of undergoing a tummy tuck include:
- Reactions to anesthesia including nausea
- Excessive bleeding
- Infection after surgery
- Accumulation of fluid in the wound (called seroma)
- Poor wound healing
- Skin issues, like numbness, skin discoloration, and swelling
- Loose skin forming
- An asymmetrical look to your stomach
- Persistent pain
Why Choose Stormont
Located in Topeka, Kansas, Stormont Vail Health is a community-driven organization. It offers close to home care and with limited travel requirements, it will be easier for you to get the care you need in a community you trust.
In 2018, Stormont Vail achieved Magnet designation for a third time. Magnet designation is one of the highest awards in nursing excellence and high-quality patient care. Only 9% of US hospitals have earned this recognition. The Joint Commission — with more than 50 years of accrediting hospitals in high quality standards — has also accredited Stormont Vail Hospital.
With several plastic surgeons and a nursing team that’s been recognized for excellence with the prestigious Magnet designation, Stormont Vail Health has an experienced and skilled medical team to help you explore whether the tummy tuck is right for you.
Make an Appointment
- To make an appointment at Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, call (785) 354-9591.
See a Primary Care Provider
- Call (785) 270-4440 to schedule an appointment with your Stormont Vail primary care provider.
- Not a Stormont Vail patient? Call (785) 270-4440 to set up your first appointment with one of our primary care providers.